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tv   MSNBC News Live  MSNBC  May 15, 2011 8:00am-9:00am EDT

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right now on msnbc sunday, the flood gates are open. the water unleashed on l.a.'s cajun area. and a candidate is under arrest in new york. his alleged victim, a hotel maid. can big macs tell us which way the economy is headed. and then the case of the high schooler that asked his
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friend to the prom in a unique way is a sign of a fad among teens. for the first time in 38 years, a key spill way gate is open and floodwaters are gushing across louisiana. authorities expect as many as 3,000 square miles of land to be swamped, with measurements as deep as 25. and shelters are set up to handle 4,800 evacuees. 11,000 buildings and homes are expected to be affected by this flooding. how in the people are the path to deal with this empending flood disaster?
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ann thompson has the latest. >> good morning. >> reporter: officials are trying to control the rising mississippi river. they open the bays yesterday in an effort to save new orleans and baton rouge, but in doing so they will flood an area home to some 25,000 people, and those people are now in danger. the water is expected to reach i-10 by midafternoon today. and i berra perish, and officials are urging people to evacuate their homes and take everything they want to keep. they will be long for a long time. officials say this spill way could be open for as long as they three weeks, as they try to deal with the flood in mississippi. alex, back to you. >> thank you for that. and u.s. army officials are
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working around the clock to build a temporarily levee and stop waters from getting into homes. but will it be enough? 25,000 people could be homeless. 3 million acres, many of it farmland, under water. joining me by phone, mike peterson from the u.s. army corps of engineers. how quickly do you expect all the flooding to spread? >> actually the opening of the flood way is a gradual process. there are some stations as far as how that water will travel through the spill way. we're looking at a few days before we see the full idlization of the spill way, and if we are only using, according to plan right now we're only using a quarter of the capacity of the spill way. >> and what about the talk that i have heard about possibly opening two more flood gates, mike, is that plan still in
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place? are there plans to open even more gates? >> right now, the way that it's designed is we open gates to maintain a certain amount of pressure and take some pressure off. it's a pressure release valve for the same system. it takes it out of the main stem system. the gates will be opened in a phased process, and new orleans district is going to make that decision based on what the river is doing and what kind of pressure is on the system. but as you probably saw in the footage yesterday, 10,000 cubic feet of water coming through one gate each, it looks impressive, but when you consider there is 1.5 million cubic feet per spekd on the main system, we're holding back basically 15 times what passes over niagara falls per second. the system is doing a fantastic
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job, but in designing it the engineers recognizes the river cannot be kept from the natural floodplain, and it will also allow us to have a predictable way of taking pressure off the system and having a failure somewhere else. >> the early estimates staggering out there. 25,000 people affected and 3 million acres washed out, and there is a chance the areas thought not to be flooded will be flooded, or will it not turn out as bad as predicted? >> i couldn't tell you that because we're opening them as we need them. it's not a tool we relish using, but actually we have three spill ways and flood ways open right now simultaneously in the system, and it's the first time in history we have had to do that. it's really a historical flood. we have had to come to difficult
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decision points. and the impacts on lives, and their economies, we recognize that. it's a terrible, terrible flood. but when you compare it to our last flood of record in 1927, the 500 people that died, more than half a million were displaced, and so far the system is doing exactly what it was designed to do. >> let's hope it stays that way. and it has been a tough choice and discussion behind the scenes. how will the weather impact all the washouts in louisiana? let's go to the weather channel for that. any trouble on the horizon on that front? >> i don't think so alex. i think in the short term, actually through much of the week we will be dry. most of the rain is in the great lakes and in the northeast. and down in louisiana, we're dry. some of this rain will
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eventually work its way down the mississippi system. it's not heavy enough to exacerbate the flooding. i think we're okay on that front. and then down through philly and norfolk, it will be bigger storms into parts of the south florida. notice across the south, including louisiana, we're nice and dry, so that's the good news. and then there is the other system on the west coast with coolish weather and snow flying up in the sierra nevada. and that's bad news in louisiana. well, the leader of the international monetary fund is
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facing sexual assault charges in new york. dominique straus koun was arrested for a criminal sex act, attempted rape and he was taken off a flight. for more on the charges, katherine rag is outside the jail in new york. what are police saying? >> reporter: the thing is, police have been questioning strauss-kahn here at the headquarters. it's raining here, but he has been inside this building for several hours now. and this is a guy, to say he is high profile is an underestimate. he was in first class headed out and they arrested him.
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and they pulled him off the plane and arrested him. according to the police there was an altercation between him and a hotel housekeeper around noon yesterday. it happened in manhattan around noontime. a housekeeper 32 years old told police he emerged from the room's bathroom naked, and she told police she forced himself on her but she got away. he seemed to leave in haste, and left behind his cell phone and police were able to track him down at kennedy. he is here at the police station, and he will be transported to manhattan and face a judge for arraignment. and by the way, he hired a criminal defense attorney who says his client denies all charges. >> does he have diplomatic immunity at all? is he going to have to stay in new york? >> at this point, we do not believe that he has diplomatic
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immunity. he is here for now, and because he was captured on the plane before it took off, there is no need for any kind of extradition. we don't believe that he has diplomatic immunity and that's something his attorney will speak more about later this afternoon. he's in police custody and it looks like he will be here in new york, at least for quite sometime. >> thank you for braving the weather for us. we appreciate that. breaking news this morning in the middle east. across the gaza trip, thousands took to the streets as protesters battle with the soldiers, they were marking the loss of their lands. 45 people were injured and there were reports of other slashes in israel. one of the leading conservatives for the gap presidential ticket has chosen not to run. mike huckabee announced he is not launching a campaign for 2012.
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>> all the factors say go. but my heart says no. i can't know or predict the future, but i know for now my answer is clear and firm, i will not seek the republicic nomination for president this year. >> he said he would stay involved to help others campaign. david gregory will have a exclusive interview with newt gingrich. how involved with al qaeda was osama bin laden in his final days? is the u.s. now safer? new information this morning on that. plus, how big macs can tell us which way the economy is going. why all the prom proposals
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are getting wilder and weirder? we'll take a look at that on "msnbc sunday." [ wind howling ] [ technician ] are you busy? management just sent over these new technical manuals.
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pakistan's parliament is condemning the u.s. for the raid that killed bin laden and it's threatening to block the u.s. from using the border if the u.s. does not stop attacks. we are getting a fuller picture of what the leader was up to in his final days. it's the cover story of the cover of "newsweek," and the regional editor joins me live, via skype. the u.s. has a real interest in showing bin laden was a key player in al qaeda when he was killed, and pakistan has a stake in proving he was out of the
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game. based on all the evidence gathered at the scene, what is your take? >> based on the evidence that has come out so far, he was playing a more symbolic role than a lot of the spin would lead you to believe. the pakistanis would like to say he was irrelevant, and when the bush administration said they could not find him, they said he was not that involved. the truth probably is none of those things. he wanted to effect al qaeda's operations and the global war by the terrorists as much as possible, but there was a limited amount he can do for that location, but as we reported, he had occasion to meet with other operational leaders in that house. >> and something everybody is talking about, extensive
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pornography at the compound. what is that all about? there are those -- we laugh, and we say we know what that's all about. but that's a way to put secret codes and send messages. i said, yeah, what about landscape photographs, why not use that for codes. >> actually, it goes way back in al qaeda, that some of the people who have been dealing with al qaeda communications did use pornography covered if you will to send secret messages. since he was not actually communicating very much with the outside world, certainly not online, not at all, i think it's fairly doubtful that he was using the pornography or anything apart from the obvious uses of pornography. >> that knowledge getting out there, how does that affect osama bin laden's image. the hypocrisy of what he
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professed to stand for, you know, a higher calling behind all the terror that he launched, and the like, what does that do in the muslim world? >> you know, alex, when it comes to that people believe what they want to believe. the first reaction of the people that supported bin laden will be this is a plot, this a story to put up there to smear his representation. >> interesting point. and we are learning he wanted to organize mass strikes because that was the only way to have his influence on u.s. policy. apparently not everybody was onboard. so does this show bin laden's waning influence, or given the focus on the activities of al qaeda, it has become too daunting. >> it's a whole lot harder to
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pull off something like 9/11, that's for sure. the fbi is highly atuned to the kinds of conspiracies and the planings and logistics that would be needed to put together a massive operation like that. so the big fear now is really much more lone wolfs, people that don't show up on the radar screen, and small groups that are not directly connected to al qaeda decide it's their moment to make their park. >> bottom line, a couple weeks now, with time to reflect, do you believe the u.s. is safer? >> yes. i mean, i think it's safer than when bin laden was killed and i think it's much, much safer than it was ten years ago. precisely because of all the safeguards put in place, and because so much more is understood from an intelligence point of view about the way al qaeda operates and the way the organizations are formed and run. >> okay. with the information, the
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treasure trove, is there a marked level of increased safety as a ult of that information? >> what the united states will do now is use the information to go after the other brains of the terrorists operations. the more you study terrorism, if you read my book "securing the city," for instance, you realize how some of the terrorists are dumb, but some are smart and are still at large. i can bet the administration is putting a lot of information into finding him and getting the leader now, too. >> thank you. keeping oil companies from getting billions in tax breaks. is it fair? should they be the only businesses to give them up? [ male announcer ] it's simple physics...
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taking a look at wall street. the treasury reaches it's trillion-dollar borrowing limits. the government says it can pay its bills through august. and it's the busiest time of year for real estate. this week we will see new numbers on the mood of home builders and sales of existing homes. and a hollywood landmark gets a new home this week. the chinese theater is being sold to a pair of movie producers. could the big mac be an economic predict you are? a new book suggests that. it's called "the guide to the 50 economic indicators that really matter."
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big mac, what is the angle here? why the big mac? >> it will tell you how much your dollar will be worth, and how much other currency it would buy, how many euros and yen it would buy if the currencies were priced where a big mac was the same price all overt world. and big macs, you got them in london and beijing and new york. and you heard donald trump talk about chinese currency being under valued, and this points to that. it's massively under valued. it should give you an idea of which way the currency will go. with the chinese currency it will go up and get more expensive, and -- >> how much are big macs in china? >> that's a great question. the economists tell you that and
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look apt every day. it's going to vary from city to city. there is always going to be a little bit of difference between prices. the labor component of a big pack -- the big mac is a service. there's a good reason that service is going to be a little different. but the differences are so huge now that you got to look at that and say, okay, it has to go up. >> given any kind of analysis, is there a disconnect. you have the markets doing well, and the economy is not doing well in terms of when you gauge peoples' pocket books. >> the disconnect here is that we have some policy that is
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distorting things. it has distorted things for a long time. we now know how it lowered interest rates now. and that's how much how different our rates are from inflation. right now they are negative. right now a negative charge on your money. and that basically points to every asset class will do really, really well. but that doesn't mean the economy will do well. it means put your money in gold or stocks or bonds and it will do well. yes, there is a disconnect. but there is a distorsion caused by this. >> a vixen indicator. what is that? >> there is a correlation between how attractive your
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staff at the local diner are and how healthy the economy is. beautiful people demand a premium in an economy. and people pay a lot of people to hire them. when the economy is good, they are not working in the local diner, and they work at "elle" magazine. and when the economy is not good they are working in the local diner. find out your own methods of gauging the economy. use your minds and maybe look how long it takes you to get a taxi. some days you can go click, and it's there, especially in new york, and some days you wait forever and ever. that can help you to read the economy. >> you guys are very creative with the book.
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meantime, simon constable, thank you so much. >> my pleasure. >> the vixon, that's the one. and then a paraplegic student took his first steps at his graduation from college. he was all smiles thankses to wearable robotics. he was paralyzed in a 2007 accident. way to go. there's a whole world missing when you search on orbitz.
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and they opened one gate on the morganza spill way to relief the overflow. >> when you live inside of a, you know, a spillway, that's part of it. >> shelters are set up to handle 4,800evacuees. one of the places still fighting the rising waters is vicksburg, mississippi. it's also one of the areas hit hard by the flooding. with a good sunday to you, tom, let's get a look at how it looks there today. >> reporter: it has been rising for the past few days here and the river here in vicksburg is expected to reach the highest since 1927. the water has been steadily
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climbing and it's surrounding the whole house right now and many of the homes in the neighborhood. it's above to that basketball hoop as well. the strange thing is seeing the wildlife as well. we are seeing many critters here. and we are trying to move towards and give you a better perspective, we are talking about the river cresting on thursday. you might have the impression that somehow it's not happening, and it's not happening yet, and the army corps of engineers tried to shore up the levees, and they reassured the people here the levees will hold. and many people packed up their things and evacuated their homes. more than 5,000 people in mississippi are expected to be away from their homes at this point. they are trying to put all their
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hopes in the levees right now and trying to go on the assurances of the army corps of engineers. you can imagine they are praying none of this will get any worse. >> are they giving an educated guestment as to when they can return home? >> reporter: that's a tough issue now. they have emergency shelters and many folks are staying with family or friends at this point but as to when they can get back into their homes, a lot of officials saying this will take time for the waters to recede, and they will stay flooded until june. >> okay. we'll see you again. thank you. >> with so many people heading for cover in los angeles, how are they coping? that is coming your way at the top of the hour. the senate is scheduled to vote this wednesday on a bill to strip billions of dollars in tax breaks for big oil companies. the legislation seeks to eliminate $2 billion in
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subsidies for large oil companies. joining me now is a democratic senator, benjamin carton. >> during the time they testified, did they say anything to have you change or re-think your position? >> not at all. in fact it was clear when you do the math that this subsidies that the taxpayers are giving the big oil companies are not needed. they use it to buy back stock. they don't use it to explore for more energy. it's clear that these tax provisions were never intended for the oil industry. it was started with trying to help export activity and manufacturing activity in the united states which the oil companies don't do. these are really unnecessary
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subsidies. we have to make tough decisions. when we are trying to do what we can to help students or saufen the cuts to the seniors, the easiest place to starts is with the unwarranted tax subsidies, let's get rid of them. >> one objection being raised was being singled out. here is rex tillerman here. >> i am not sure the newspaper companies are exporting dominantly their newspapers. my point is, if you want to get rid of it, get rid of it across the board. >> does he have a point? why should they be singled out? >> the manufacturing tax credits that we're talking about here, the lines should go to companies manufacturing, and there are manufacturing products that we hope to get into the
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international marketplace. and the oil companies are recipients of the tax breaks. and they are making huge profits. $35 billion in the first three months. people are hurting. people that try to fill up their gas tanks are hurting. everybody needs to help in this regard. and the oil industry is outrageous that they want to continue these subsidies. >> the question is, are they an easy target. as your colleague from the other side of the side, he called it a dog and pony show. does it have a chance of passing? >> i think so. we have to make tough decisions. everybody recognizes that. we are going to be asking everybody to contribute. you already saw the cuts in our domestic spending. we will look at military spending. we will look at our mandatory spending. the least we can do is take the tax breaks that were never
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intended for the oil industry and use that to help balance our budget. >> is there an element to having this a dog and pony show? everybody, as you correctly say, is so angry about gas prices. was it easy to bring the oil executives up there and put them on trial in front of the country? >> what we try to do is what is right and fair. i don't think the oil industry had a defense that they did not get the tax breaks. they tried to say we were picking on them, and they were trying to divert attention. we did not hear one explanation as to why the tax breaks should be continued. there was not a policy reason why they should be continued. the 199 provisions were put in to help export activity. the oil industry is importing their product and not exporting it. they were trying to distract us from the lack of any merits for these tax breaks. >> senator, any concern that if
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this legislation passes, if they're able to put these tax breaks at an end here, that these companies could go belly up. >> >> they made $35 billion. $35 billion. the top five oil companies in the first three months. oil prices are going up, and they are making more money. they made more money in these three months than in the first three months than last year. they are on pace to break the record profits of $125 billion. we're talking about $4 billion of taxes a year. no, there is no danger of that at all. >> i was wondering when you were going to get around to saying no. thank you very much. appreciate your time. pakistani lawmakers are demanding the u.s. stop launching strikes against militants in their country. and pakistan's parliament passed
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the nonbinding agreement yesterday. there are serious questions on the relationship between pakistan and the u.s. >> we want pakistan to be a partner in this effort. we obviously want a pakistan that is prepared to respect the interests of afghanistan and to be a real ally in our efforts to combat terrorism. >> dan gray is the vice president of a nonprofit public policy research group. nice to see you. what do you make of the threat by pakistan? do you think it's a likely scenario? >> it has been done in the past. last year in response of shooting pakistani border
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guards, they closed the pass and we had fuel trucks backed up for miles and a lot of which were attacked by the pakistani taliban. >> and then what about or else? >> well, we very dependent upon the southern supply routes. we have an alternate route that goes through eastern europe and russia, but it can't carry everything. so if the pakistanis were to make good on the threat, our forces in afghanistan would be in deep trouble. that leads to the next question which is what will the u.s. do in that case? we would not sit by. there would be realation back on pakistan. >> how about if the u.s. closed
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its purse strings to them? how about that? >> well, they are not getting military assistance from everybody else. that would put them in a bind. they have to ask the question as to whether they want to push it as far as some of their lawmakers want to do or they would like to see it quiet down in something like the status quo. >> what about if the u.s. just said, okay, your thwarting our efforts, and we're taking off out of afghanistan? >> well, the interesting question is, of course, not only what would happen with respect to afghanistan but what would happen in pakistan? there are a number of pakistani counties, and they are in fact also attacking pakistani targets. in some sense you take the risks of adding to the destabilization of pakistan, something which
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nobody wants. prom punishment lifted. a student that got in trouble for breaking rules gets a break. but is the unusual way he proposed a sign of the times? down the hill? man: all right. we were actually thinking, maybe... we're going to hike up here, so we'll catch up with you guys. [ indistinct talking and laughter ] whew! i think it's worth it. working with a partner you can trust is always a good decision. massmutual. let our financial professionals help you reach your goals. [music playing] confidence available in color.
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connecticut teenager can go to his prom after all. he used the front of his high school to ask his date to the prom. and we have a reporter joining us from hartford. good morning to you. >> thank you. >> and there are a lot of people saying the proper justice was served. what about the school officials? what did they say about reversing the decision? >> they never expected something like this to blow up to the magnitude that it did. i don't think anybody was. and now the school administrators are admitting that perhaps they made a judgment too quickly.
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it really was not any malishious intent. he did not deface school property or do anything wrong to deserve the punishment that he originally got. >> you think it was the publicity that put the pressure on? >> absolutely. >> do you think that there was any level of resentment or cure u -- curiosity or amusement? >> there was international pressure by the media, and by social media sites, and parents and students signing petitions, sending e-mails and making calls, and i think that put a lot of pressure on administrators to change their decision or look into it again. >> hillary, here is the thing, though, the way james went about asking his date to the prom it indicates a bigger story here. and there is a reference in an article there in the hartford current. the way people are asked to prom now, it's so big.
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>> yes. >> it's not just a phone call. it's huge. what is this all about? >> it's not simple anymore. you are absolutely right. shows like "laguna beach," and throughout connecticut we have seen this as well, i think with the younger generation, we are much more in tune with ourselves and we like to put ourselves out there. you have the social networking sites, and people put all their information out there. there is no more privacy. this is just another way to get that out there, to show that emotion, and to make grand gestures. it's just a generational thing. i think you are going to see a lot more of this. i think not at shelton high school, but across the country. you will see a lot more prom proposals like this. >> okay. thank you so much for joining us. >> not a problem. thank you. an emotional commencement
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ceremony by the speaker of the house. john boehner got choked up while talking about the importance of faith and family. >> over the years i have carried in my heart a similar code that my parents taught me, and it's real simple. if you do the right things for the right reasons good things will happen. so there you have it. humility, patience and faith. and always a few tears from me. >> nbc's special correspondent, tom brokaw, addressed the graduating class. he said there are still reasons to be hopeful. >> that does not mean that you will be assigned to a life of deprivation and struggle. meramerica remains a place of
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unlimited opportunities, and well beyond the hope of hundreds and millions of people in much less developed countries. >> he also today graduates to make a difference, because that has it's own rich reward.
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pakistan's parliament is condemning the u.s. raid that killed bin laden. the issue of sending a strike team is one of obama's things that he addressed before he was elected. this is from a 2008 interview. >> now, we need to work with pakistan to disman dull those training camps and kill bin laden, but if pakistan is unwilling or unable to take bin laden out and we have him in the sights, we have to do it. >> joining us now, michael.
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it was that interview that we heard, that idea was not a new one. >> yeah, you say that's a no-brainer. and what you have to remember is that when senator obama first offered that thought process, it was very controversial. he was criticized for taking that. senator john mccain from the other side of the aisle regarded this as a naive statement, and now we look back and it makes perfect sense. he said it to me five different times, if this were the circumstances, he would not hesitate to act and that's what he did. >> do you think it was more of a show to public relations to say
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what they thought it was the proper thing to say? >> i think there had not been the realization that at least some of us think we were getting played by the pakistanis. now we are $20 billion later, and you made reference to loft questions that are being raised about the isi and the pakistani backlash. president obama and then senator obama was wise to this perhaps sooner than many others. >> what about in the last couple weeks, the listeners to your program, what are they saying now that the dust settles? >> with every new development or slight change of the narrative, we hash and rehash, and i think that people have an insay shawable first for the details of how the special forces took him out. i should make clear that while we are fascinated with the different developments, there have been no changing of minds in terms of being proud of the
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way if the s.e.a.l. team took him out. people are immensely cloud that there is some sense of closure in that regard? >> is anybody brought up the porn being found? >> yes, i have brought it up. i am fascinated by it. tomorrow on my program, we are going to conjure up what some of the porn titles might have been. the porn industry loves to have a play on words with current released movies to wider audiences, so it would be interested to see what the audience comes up with tomorrow. it speaks with the hypocrisy. i have a distinct recollection of some of the hijackers getting lap dances before they engaged in their so called missions. >> you know, i will have to
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e-mail you the suggested titles that our studio gave me, the studio crew. i was writing them down, and they were pretty good. i will get them to you. >> thank you. and after a flood gate is open, will thousands lose all they have to raging water. and international man of money got up in sex allegations here in new york city. he was among the favorites to be the new president of one country. angry birds, and it's a craze making another leap. we will explain why they should be flying on to your computer screen soon. [ male announcer ] montgomery and abigail haggins had a tree that bore the most rare and magical fruit, which provided for their every financial need. [ thunder rumbling ]
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